Everyone enjoys the summer sun—swimming, boating, water skiing, bicycling, hiking and more. While being in the hot sun, it is important to protect your eyes and skin.
The sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays. Both types can damage your eyes and skin: UV-B rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin and UV-A rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin.
“Learning the risks of too much sun exposure and taking the right precautions to protect you and your family from UV rays will help you safely enjoy the outdoors,” said ARH General Surgeon Daniel Kenady, MD.
According to Dr. Kenady, unprotected sun exposure can cause vision problems and damage to your eyes, suppression of the immune system, premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the risk that comes with sun exposure.
Stay in the shade. The sun’s glare is most intense at midday. Staying in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will further protect your skin. The sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days or in the winter. For this reason, it is important to stay protected throughout the year.
Cover up while outdoors. Wearing a hat (preferably wide brimmed) or other shade-protective clothing can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Proper clothing may include long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and sunglasses for eye protection.
Choose the right sunscreen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that your sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and should protect against both Ultraviolet A (UV-A) and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays.
Use the right amount of sunscreen. According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, it is important to apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. You should apply it more often if you are sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
“By taking the proper precautions, you can enjoy being outdoors,” stated Dr. Kenady. “However, if you are having any blistering or severe skin irritations after being in the sun, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.”